Thursday, July 14, 2011

Geek Rant Topic 19: Hipster

When All Else Fails returns, there is irony abounds as Mousa The 14 talks about hipsters. Sigh...

Thank you Coelasquid. Oh by the way, you guys should totally read Manly Guys Doing Manly Things

So yeah, a few months ago I heard this term thrown around and I had no idea what the heck it meant. After a lot of osmosis I finally figured a solid-ish definition of this nebulous and insulting term.

Now what the hell is a hipster and why do geeks seem to hate them above all else?

Well to begin, hipsters are like this time period's Emos. Back when I was in middle school in like 2004-06, Emo kids were a big deal. Like Hipsters of today they aren't exactly easy to define but the short version of what I understood at the time was that they were over emotional attention seeking goth wannabes and their biggest claim to fame was cutting themselves. the song most associated with them is Untitled (How Could This Happen To Me) by Simple Plan and the song that best describes them is well this...

Hah hah ha, hilarious.

But yeah, back in my day it was a big deal to call people emo or make fun of emos. I never saw to many but they were "there". Now today we have Hipsters. Slightly easier to define it turns out. Hipsters are defined by "Irony" and being "Indie". Through some irritating sense of self-worth they only listen to underground music so underground even the Indie kids think they're being pretentious. This video by Graham Stark of Loading Ready Run describes the music aspect of Hipsters perfectly though he refers to them as scenesters.

And really you take that policy and apply that to every other interest and you essentially have a Hipster, one famous quote associated with their sort is "I liked (insert previously obscure media here) before it was mainstream/cool/popular." They also tend to like things... "Ironically" even though they usually don't know what irony means. Like if it's bad or kiddy or mainstream they like it but they don't genuinely like it.

I suppose as an artist I take note of their visual stylings and come to realize that the best way to describe a hipster's appearance is to take the things you'd associate with a geek and put it on the personality of aforementioned scenesters. Thick black glasses? They have those. Those wonderful fedoras and other such dapper clothing? They have a monopoly on those too. And while I'm probably the only straight male that likes flat caps nowadays, Hipsters have taken those away from us too. The Rummage Sale Reject style of fashion our ladies occasional take to? Make the colors a little drabber and poof instant hipster. Neckbeards? Uh.. yeah, Hipsters can keep those. One of my funnier ways of describing a hipster is taking all the things geeks love and perverting it into something unlikeable. I've also come to figure out they seem to be like "White Trash with Money."

Or so I thought.

Turns out not all Hipsters are annoying whiny underground people, those are just the most prevalent. In fact one could say that geeks and hipsters have a lot more in common than many would think.

The idea of a hipster is to conform to anti-conformity, the value of independent thought. Which means that if something is popular by definition they will vehemently dislike it. This would be similar to a typical geek's nonconformity where it's not that we actively dislike things that are mainstream, and sometimes we do, it's just that we enjoy a lot of things that just happen to be mainstream or straddle the line between well known and being something only geeks know. In fact geeks seem to be able to make the distinction within our ranks and if someone actively dislikes thing because they're mainstream, we'll... be less kind towards them.

Hmm, let's take this definition from urban Dictionary and see if there's anything more I can parse out....

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park, and Mission District neighborhoods of major cosmopolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco respectively. Although "hipsterism" is really a state of mind,it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses. Both hipster men and women sport similar androgynous hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs. Such styles are often associated with the work of creative stylists at urban salons, and are usually too "edgy" for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer. The "effortless cool" urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic. Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities.

Let's see, I've already covered the counter culture thing in the previous paragraph and the music stuff before that and I've vaguely covered the clothing thing, though I forgot to mention in addition to be a little scruffy, their clothing is stuff you'd find a thrift store, some odd amalgam of old clothing, taking a bunch or either cool things and bringing them together like the aforementioned fedoras. They almost look like your stereotypical "Ze Arteest" character archetype with a side order of of "I'm so cool without even trying", things that look thrown together. Geeks tend to dress like... well casually and if we look cool while doing it then that's awesome, but generally our most hipster-esque aspects tends to look like costumes from our favorite media, fedoras and trench coats, and rummage sale reject-like looks are a part of that.

Ooh, the independent thought and progressive politics, well geeks are a fascinating breed where you'd be hard pressed to find a conservative one and if you do then you will rightly shout them down because how dare they support equal rights for white males and only them and anyone who is less fortunate than them should stay that way.
(Note, I don't actually think all conservatives are horrible people to be shouted down, it's a joke, please don't hurt me.)

Point is, most geeks are either liberal or libertarian and clearly this is the same for hipsters it would seem, only one supports individual and independent thought regardless of when it could be a detriment above all else whilst the other is really more in favor in the freedom of information and not having information destroyed or obfuscated above all else. Or at least that's what I've come to understand.

Hmm, typically in their 20s and 30s..... yes. Definitely. I'll cover this in a future installment but basically one of the bigger aspects of geekdom is being interested in interests and hobbies that many "mainstream" people or adults of old would say are childish things we should've abandoned long ago, so the age group is the same, especially since geeks are associated a lot with nostalgia and being in our 20s and 30s is around the time we start to look back at our childhood as we arrive at adulthood and decide either or not we want to move on or not.

Now the liberal arts degree thing is interesting considering I hear a lot of geeks, when not entering an engineering field, is more likely to be in liberal arts because we consume a lot of media and what better way to go immerse ourselves in media than liberal arts where you can learn about journalism, literature, language, communications, all that stuff, and with the math and science aspects which can overlap with the engineering majors this is even more so.

In many ways we have more in common than we think and perhaps Geeks hate so much because perhaps too many Hipsters that are jerks and we don't want to be associated with them. I mean we are one or two attitude and hobby shifts away from being considered a hipster which can be more scary than being considered a geek. I mean really, no one has a phrase like "Douchebag geek" or "Geek trash" but "Hipster trash" and "
douche-bag hipster" are thrown around far easier. They're like a dark reflection of what we could be seen as by the uninitiated and really, some people don't want to have a worse stigma than they already have.

-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination is Your Greatest Power
Mousa The 14

P.S. Wow, I can't believe I didn't look to Tv Tropes, I didn't think there was an article there on this. Well, I suppose it hasn't changed much besides the inclusion of a love of art house films which can coincide with a geek's love for b-movies and "So Bad It's Good" movies or film geeks having an interest in art house movies in general.


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